A Pink Challenge, by Caprilicious
Hello everyone, how have you been this week? Last weekend was a bit damp, but I'm hoping that this one will be better as my garden is crying out for weeding and planting into the bare spots where the frost has killed off my perennials. A trip to the garden centre is written in my stars (as well as a massive bill). A lot of our garden is permanently in dappled shade and it is quite a challenge to find plants that flourish there and are disliked by the slugs and snails that love shady, wet corners.
The necklace I made this week was commissioned by my bestie - she walked around a market in Boston, USA, and saw a necklace that she fell in love with but walked away from because she is a careful buyer and doesn't impulse buy like the rest of us (me). She used to drive me crazy when we went shopping as young women, with her shopping technique. 'I want this one, but in another colour and another print, in a different material,' was the constant refrain. She took a grainy picture of the necklace and sent it to me - could I make one like it, please? I do not like to copy another person's work, however, this was basically a string of interesting beads, and the challenge was to identify the beads, find them, and then restring them for her. And so the work/fun began.
She told me that the beads were a really pretty shade of pink. I guessed that they were most likely rhodochrosite, although her dreadful photograph was pretty inconclusive, so I sent her pictures of the beads I found. I got a question in return - why rhodochrosite and not rhodonite? What was the difference?
Obviously, as a scientist and researcher, she wasn't going to take my word for it; thankfully I knew the answer.
Both rhodochrosite and rhodonite are predominately pink. What sets them apart visually tends to be the veining and banding. With pink rhodochrosite, white or gray bands typically run across the stone. They tend to be mainly parallel to one another. Pink rhodonite, on the other hand, has dramatic black smudges. Rhodonite commonly has a notable matrix of black manganese oxide, which contrasts dramatically against the pink. While there is some veining, it doesn’t tend to create the distinct parallel lines one finds in rhodochrosite.
The next task was to actually find the right beads - I hunted high and low - shops in India, China and the USA were scoured for these beads at a reasonable price. I even bought some from China, but they were the wrong size and have since been used in another piece, Melange. I looked on Etsy but the prices were prohibitive. Eventually I found a string of beads at a wholesaler in Oregon, USA and had them sent out to my friend, who thankfully said that she approved! Now we had to find a way of getting them to me, and the finished necklace back to her. Fortunately, she found someone who works in the UK, but was going to conference in the US in April who kindly agreed to carry them to me.
Pushpa's Pink Necklace
I added a few chunky, rough nuggets of strawberry quartz, a couple of silver tone beads that ought to age and tarnish well with time and a rhodochrosite seahorse clasp that has been sitting in my stash for a few years now. This was not part of the original remit, of course, so I was careful to make the piece so that the clasp could work to one side, should she wish, or at the back if not. I'm quietly confident that she will like the clasp, however, it can always be changed if she doesn't.
To my mind, one doesn't go to a jewellery designer for an 'ordinary string of beads kinda necklace!' There has to be something that sets my pieces apart from the run of the mill, and it would grieve me to be accused of being that. The clasp has been cut so that part of the ring is slimmer than the rest, so that it fits easily under the chin of the seahorse, and once it is in place, the ring is turned so that the necklace remains secure due to the weight of the beads and because the thicker part of the ring cannot escape from under the hook/chin.
So, what d'you think? Will she like it? Do you?
I've also been sewing beads onto my next piece, a few at a time. For the first time, I had a design in mind when I started, and drew it out onto the felt - much good that did me, though, because I've already altered it thrice since I started! I might have it ready for display in a couple of weeks. For some reason, I've picked pink as the predominant colour once again. However, I have a cunning plan to water down the 'pinkness' of it so it doesn't look too girly - this is most definitely a grown up's necklace.
Have a wonderful weekend, folks, and I'll catch up with you later.
Blossom, by Caprilicious
Hello folks, I'm so happy to be here today. The sun is shining and the weather is getting warmer. Last weekend hubby and I decided that it was warm enough to go and sit outdoors at our favourite cafe in town and watch the world go by over a glass of wine and a little bowl of triple cooked chips. We insured against a freak cloud covering over the uncertain warmth of the watery sunlight by overdressing - layers and layers of clothes went on until we resembled Sumo wrestlers. We rolled into the cafe only to find that there were no freak clouds and we were sat in mini saunas of our own making - we probably lost a couple of pounds just through sweating into our layers ( I only wish it were that easy!).
The onset of spring always brings hubby out in bouts of sneezing - he cannot cope with the pollen from the May blossom, but it is hard to get him to stay out of it. By the time the slightly warmer weather arrives, all of us in the Western hemisphere are fed up of huddling indoors and want to shed our clothes like snakeskins and go out in the weak sunshine. Fortunately he seems to get over his allergies once the blossom is gone and is free from the sniffles for the rest of the summer.
The flowers have started to bud and the whole place is beginning to resemble a garden, which is a change from the wasteland it resembled a few short weeks ago. This necklace is inspired by the flowers that I am looking forward to with all my heart. The name of course comes from the song by James Taylor - someone who's music I was first introduced to in my childhood, who is still going strong in his seventies.
I have had these beautigul handmade glass beads embellished with little flowers in my little bead hoard for ages. I am totally in awe of people who can manipulate glass to make something so beautiful - imagine the heat of the furnace, the burns that are inevitable and tubes of glass melted to a toffee like consistency and then twisted and turned at arms length to become these beauties. If you've never been to a glass blower's yard, I'd urge you to do it sometime.
I couldn't resist wearing the necklace, as you can see, and it truly is pretty. The earrings were made earlier, when I first got these beads.
I hope you are all planning a lovely Bank Holiday weekend - I plan to rest up as I've had a couple of hectic weeks at the day job, and I also have a bead embroidery project brewing in my head which I shall start up tonight. All the 'ingredients' have been assembled and it's time to get started.
Have a fabulous weekend and I'll catch you soon,
Hello folks, how are you this beautiful weekend? I'm heaving a sigh of relief because we have managed to come through the junior doctors strike safely and in one piece. All of us pitched in and worked hard, but the main thing was that everyone was safe and well at the end of the week.
I even found the time to put together a simple necklace - it is simple, and not as highly colourful as my usual offerings, but I found these unusual slices of rough cut agate from a bead shop near me - the stones seemed to smile at me and invite me to pick them up. I brought them home and looked at them carefully - the lapidary artist had cut through the strata of agate vertically and pierced the slabs in the direction of the cut. You can see the layers of rock at the edge of each bead and it is a symphony in dark grey, black and white, with a few oranges and browns thrown in. I wanted to add a bit of colour - I usually add a chunk of bamboo coral to contrast with monochrome but then I saw this lovely handmade bead in my stash.
This bead was made at a Polymania workshop - I think it was Loretta Lam who taught us how to make a large but light double sided bead, and embellish it in various ways. I polished it up and Voila! Here was the perfect contrast to my agate beads.
Encounters in Stone
I'm not known for my flights of fancy but these stones really did speak to me - they called out and sang. There was no way I could leave the shop without them. I hope you can understand how this necklace enticed me in a primeval way.
I even tried it on before going to work on Monday, and I'm very pleased with it.
That's me for this week, folks. I leave you with a photograph of a magnolia tree in bloom that grows in the hospital courtyard. I've worked there for 23 years and only noticed it for the first time a couple of days ago. Isn't that terrible, the way we rush about our business without spending a moment to take in our surroundings? We truly have no time to stop and stare.
Have a wonderful weekend and I'll catch you soon,
Hello folks, how are you this fine and sunny Easter weekend. Hubby and I got back from a trip to Amsterdam where it was constantly and consistently miserable, wet and cold. Anyway, we realised that we had a sense of humour, we got on well with each other (more or less), and that on the whole we are fairly well suited to one another. What a discovery after almost 25 years of being together! Oh well, you learn something every day.
Come rain or shine, we were determined to go - the saga started a year ago when we booked the trip but only made it as far as the runway, when we were told that the plane had developed a problem and we'd have to rebook onto a flight the next day. We cancelled!
KLM compensated us, but the hotel gave us a voucher. So, we tried again - I rebooked the trip in September of last year, and was horrified to see reports of the queues at Schipol, flights cancelled and luggage strewn all over the place in the airport. We cancelled again, and the hotel refunded us, but this time, KLM gave us a voucher.
I was sure we'd be lucky the third time and rebooked the exact same trip at the end of March - the hope was to visit the Keukenhof Gardens which are only open for eight weeks of the year. I read that April is usually the best time to visit, but we decided to go at the very end of March (almost April, right?) so I could use up all my leftover annual leave from 2022.
A late start with a delay for an hour sitting in a cramped plane waiting for a second chance at take off after we missed our original slot, and a mislaid and refound suitcase later, we were in Amsterdam. Ok, it wasn't looking good - by this time, we realised we were in for trouble!
We did go to the Keukenhof and in spite of global warming, the dratted tulips hadn't bothered to come out to greet us in droves - although there were a few and the gardens were spectacular, I couldn't help feeling a bit cheated.
Eventually, sodden, cold and weary, full of stodgy food we bought at the various eateries dotted around the place where we ducked in to find a bit of warmth and shelter, we made our way back to the hotel. The rest of the time in Amsterdam was spent in cafe's and bars, the Rijksmuseum and a couple of jazz clubs.
We tried a bowl of Snert. That's right, it's Holland’s version of pea soup - a thick green stew of split peas, pork, celery, onions and leeks, and contrary to its name, it’s completely delicious. Apart from the Stroopwaffels and pancakes sold everywhere, we couldn't find any authentic Dutch restaurants. Perhaps because we were in Dam square which is a very touristy area, the prevalent food was international with battered fish and chips, burgers, pizza and pasta (Yawn!) ubiquitous on menus everywhere that tourists congregate.
And then it was time to come back home, on a 90 minute flight which KLM somehow managed to convert to 180 minutes by stalling departure for reasons unknown - it was raining here too, but Wilfred was glad to come home, and so were we.
So, I'm back to work and familiarity, a junior doctors strike when I am the consultant on call, an impending inspection, and more fun than one could shake a stick at. I think I shall just have to pick up my beads and make something to soothe my soul. Hang on, isn't a holiday supposed to do that? Not this one, I'm afraid. I shall just have to book another one pretty soon to compensate.
Have a lovely Easter everyone and I'll catch you next week, same time, same place.
Melange, by Caprilicious
Hello everyone, how are you? I've had a few days off work and it's been cold and rainy, so I found myself all dressed up and no where to go. It didn't take me long to pick out some beads from my little (!) collection and put them together in the piece I'm about to show you. The garden was waterlogged and sodden, but I managed to get a picture of the camellia which is in full flower. I can see the blooms from my bedroom window, but hadn't ventured to go out there in the awful weather.
Now that spring is here, there will be more days out in the garden, backbreaking at first, pulling weeds and putting in plants until it comes into its own in the summer months.
While I sat at home and relaxed, the beads came out - this is one of my more popular necklace designs and I make a few every year with little oval gemstone nuggets. I have a container of these that I replenish as the level goes down. This iteration is dominated by rhodochrosite, amazonite, lapis lazuli, Sonora jasper and citrines, as well as little pearls and crystals to add an extra glint with movement. I made this slightly longer than ones I made previously, so that it can be twisted if so required by the wearer. It has a beautiful floral mother-of-pearl clasp and I think it will be well loved.
I love the vibrancy of the rhodochrosite - while I'm not particularly in love with pink, the salmony colour of these little nuggets is pleasing when contrasted with the blues and greens of the rest of the necklace.
That's me for this week, folks. I wish you a wonderful week and I'll catch up with you soon,
Hello everyone, how are you this weekend? I hope you've all had a restful week - and if not, are likely to have a good weekend. I've had the junior doctors strike to deal with - the rota changed as many times as I looked at it, as we moved people around to provide the safest service possible, and eventually we came out the other side.
It took me two days to embroider this tiny rectangle of leather - what I was trying to do was to make a little bail for a pendant in my stash. The needles you can buy that would go through leather like a hot knife through butter are unfortunately too big to go through the tiny beads I was using, so I had to make do with my tiny Size 10 embroidery needle.
I pushed the tip of the needle into the leather and a used pair of pliers to pull it through. This felt so clumsy, with all the picking up and putting down of the pliers, and the handles getting entangled with the thread. I cursed myself for even thinking up the idea of an embroidered leather bail. One of my not-so-good ideas, then!
But, I had started, so I was determined to finish! Of course, the design was freehand and made up as I went along, and I embroidered both sides of the bail. Two broken and misshapen needles and many tiny perforations in my fingers later, this bail emerged.
I'm a big fan of the carved pendants that come out of China and I have made a number of pieces of jewellery from them in the past. Let me show you some of the pieces that came before.
The pendants are usually hefty and palm sized, beautifully carved with fanciful dragons and lions, and with a bit of embellishment (or not) they are good to go. They dont come with any means of hanging them, though. Each one poses it's own peculiar problem, depending on where the perforations in the carving lie so that a necklace can be attached to it.
This week's pendant is delicate, with a lacy, floral pattern, much smaller than the others and it didn't seem to have any Oomph! to it. It sat on my table and didn't get thrown into the 'I can't use it' pile, because it is rather pretty and someone had taken so much trouble to carve such a thin piece of stone without cracking it in half.
Once the bail was ready I had to figure out how to attach it to the pendant, and even then it wasn't enough for me. Embellish or perish, I say - so I found some pretty coral rosebuds and a packet of turquoise beads and made some dangles - all at once, the pendant was no more Chinese, but had a distinct Mexican air about it! The beads I had originally picked for the necklace were no longer applicable and yet another rummage in my stash produced fresh results. Bamboo coral, pyrite, yak bone beads, lapis lazuli and turquoise were what I decided to put into this changeling which seemed to be dictating terms to me as it went along. And when it was finished, all I could say was....... "¡Ay, caramba!".
I can tell you that I am extremely surprised at how this piece turned out - I never envisaged a piece of Mexicana when I started out, but I'm pleased with the end result. A truly international effort, colourful as damnit and fun to wear. Who could ask for anything more?
That's me for this week, folks. Have a wonderful weekend - the sun is shining and its warmth feels good. Soon the garden will need attention and I have a new border planned which will take some work. Bare brown earth is so depressing and I want loads of colour in my garden. I can't wait to get started. Fortunately hubby loves colour as much as I do - just take a look at his socks! I took this picture while we were sitting in front of the telly, watching a movie and having supper.
I'll catch up with you soon,
Hello folks, how are you? I haven't been able to keep up with my regular weekly blog posts for a while now, and I apologise for that. I've taken on extra responsibilities at the day job and am working harder than ever before - however, making jewellery brings me so much peace and joy that I try to do as much as I can, when I can. I've also begun to make more complex pieces, the making and engineering of which can be quite tricky and requires meticulous planning. I don't want to end up just stringing beads together - while that is instantly satisfying, I love a challenge - making my own beads, bead embroidery, and creating something totally different is the Caprilicious way and I intend to stick to it. When I string beads together, I want the focal piece to be something that came from my imagination, not someone elses design. This isn't always possible, of course, and I get lazy too - but I do try, I do!
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been making a hand woven sunflower - the petals are made from little Czech seed beads that surround a dark crystal centre, there are little green sepals at the back and the whole piece was finished and ready at the back end of last week. All of this week was spent watching tutorials on how to make leaves - I finally found one that suited my requirements and made a pair of Russian leaves in a stitch called diagonal peyote - learning and perfecting a new technique gives me so much joy, but equally takes a lot of time, with much muttering and swearing - all the minor irritations of the day fade away in comparison to a little leaf that just doesn't want to sit right because of a stupid error I made with the number of beads, and I have to undo the whole thing and start again.
Sweet Sunflower Smile
I attached the sunflower to a five strand choker with tiny invisible stitches, close to the neck, just slightly off centre, and the leaves were attached to the next strand under the sunflower, so that when worn, the whole thing looks like it was made together.
This one has been a lot of hard work, lots of new learning, and lots of fun. I hope it brings a smile to the wearer too!
That's me for this week, folks. I'm going to spend the rest of the day cutting up the mangled remains of the 'failed leaves' I made and salvage the beads - those emerald green hex cut beads are so pretty, I wouldn't want to lose any more of them - some of them have already disappeared into the no-man's land that is the settee, and even more into the forever hell that is the floor, only to resurface when hubby decides to walk barefoot to bring up something from the kitchen!
I will give it a rest for another week, I think - I have plenty to do at the day job, what with the junior doctor's strike looming tomorrow.
Take care, and I'll be back shortly,
Hello everyone, it's nice to catch up with you again. The high(low)light of this week was my cat, Wilfred bumping into a tray of seed beads, and they rolled everywhere. I had beads all over the floor and decided that come what may, I was going to pick up every last one. Oh, if I didn't love him so much, he would have been dead meat! The air around me was blue as I swore and muttered under my breath. Fortunately it was just the one colour and size - I didn't have to sit and sort them out into separate piles. Poor Wilf realised that he'd done wrong and went and hid inside a cardboard box that had arrived with jewellery boxes in it and had to be tempted out with morsels of food by hubby.
The rest of the week was occupied by putting those very same beads to use and I made a sunflower out of them. This is the first time I've made an entire flower using herringbone stitch and it was a bit of a daunting task. However, at the end of seven days, I've made a credible flower - whether it looks like a sunflower or not!
For some reason, the beads in this tube were two distinct shades of yellow. Perhaps I bought a mixed lot, I can't remember how that came about. I separated them as I sewed and tried to make the petals with the paler shade at the tip and the brighter colour at the back. I hoped the second colour would be all but invisible, but I'm sure if you look carefully at the flower, the two colours will become immediately apparent.
The next task is to teach myself how to make Russian leaves so I can give this flower here some company on the necklace I intend to make. It looks quite a difficult task, so if I fail, the 'sunflower' is on its own with no apologies from me - at least I tried.
I'm off to watch that video now, so wish me luck. That's me for now, have a wonderful week and keep warm, whatever you do. It sounds like it is going to be really cold in the UK.
Catch you next week, hopefully with a finished piece of jewellery with the flower, plus/minus a leaf or two!
Seafoam Sonata, by Caprilicious
Hello people, how are you faring this weekend? I'm on call from home, which means I am around all day, ready to spring into action if called by the hospital to help to deal with particularly knotty problems. However, it also means that if the Unit is not too busy, I get some time for my favourite occupation - playing with beads. I made this necklace yesterday and took the photographs this morning after the ward round. I love this piece so much that I couldn't wait to show it off!
It all started with an abalone shell pendant I picked up at a shop in Birmingham when I was there, browsing around. I love abalone or the Paua shell - the iridescent blues and greens, and the appearance of a colour shift is irresistible. The beautiful shell immeadiately transports you to the sea.
Abalone jewellery is a by product of the food industry as they are prized for their oyster like taste and are eaten as delicacies in China and Japan. There are large abalone farms in places like New Zealand, Californa and Mexico, and they export to these countries, having nurtured these little gastropods for between four and seven years. The meat is salty and when fried to a crisp tastes like bacon! You can reead more about it by clicking on the link.
The shimmering nacre we see in jewellery is created by the molluscs. Its formation is similar to traditional mother of pearl, and the abalone can make pearls, similar to oysters, but much more rarely. Only one in half a million abalone have pearls within and these are all natural. Abalone cannot be treated like oysters and used for pearl farming as they cannot tolerate being nucleated.
The shells are used for jewellery, but have to be ground and polished by experts as the dust is very toxic, and causes lung diseases.
I added a little starfish pendant from my stash - it is set with little micro pave cubic zirconia and it dangles over the abalone pendant, giving the appearance of a single composite piece. I searched high and low for the exact shade of blue that would go with the pendant - aquamarine, amazonite, turquoise, blue topaz, Peruvian opal - all these were considered and set aside when I saw these beautiful rough cut nuggets of blue quartz. They have been tumbled into a soft matte finish in a rock-tumbler which is like a mini washing machine, until they are smooth as a baby's bottom and have a pleasing matte finish. I grabbed them and set to work - each nugget is separated by a tiny mother of pearl bead and the effect is completely different from what it looked like when the beads were simply strung together in a row. The effect was suddenly as if the piece was frothy, like the foam at the edge of the ocean. I'm not sure if I'm being over imaginative, but here are some pictures for you.
This necklace makes me feel like I could do this!
The three strands can be twisted together to make a chunkier necklace, I'm sorry I haven't any more photographs to show you.
I was so excited with the way it looked that I only stopped to click these few pictures and ran back to the house to take a look at them. Besides, it's freezing cold out there in the conservatory where I have a little set up for my photography and I wanted to get back indoors as fast as possible.
That's me for now, folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch up with you soon.
Hello everyone, how are you all on this bright and sunny morning? Green shoots are springing up everywhere and although the weather report is full of doom and gloom with high wind forecast over the weekend, my spirits are lifted every time I look out of the window and instead of brown bare soil there are tiny slivers of green. Coincidentally, I was asked to make a bright emerald green chunky necklace by a friend of mine and I jumped at the chance to reflect my surroundings.
Commissioned pieces can be difficult to make because what the person envisages and what you see in your own mind may be entirely different. As customer satisfaction is what Caprilicious is all about, I sent pictures of beads that I had in my not inconsiderable stash, and some more from suppliers' websites. Pictures of necklaces already made up for design purposes, and others to confirm the colour. Price points, delivery arrangements; our phone lines were red hot with all the back and forthing that took place between us - thank you WhatsApp! However, we had one thing going for us - I know this girl almost as well as I know myself, having met on our very first day at medical school as terrified 17 year olds at rag week. We've been friends ever since and supported each other through all sorts of craziness and shared experiences. So, here's the necklace I made for her - she loves the one picture of it that I sent her, and has already made arrangements for delivery to Boston, where she lives.
The Enchanted Forest
I love the lost wax cast bronze sun beads from Ghana, which always make a fabulous focal counter point to the agate druzy. I've had a strand of these for ages - I've written about them before and there is a link to a previous blog post above. I picked them up in the USA when I went there in 2017. I've obviously used them very, very sparingly as I still have a couple left in 2023! I last used them in another agate necklace, which incidentally, is still available on the website.
I am disappointed, however, by the inability of my camera to pick up the sugar-crystal sparkles from the druzy at the centre of each stone. Unfortunately, it can only be seen when the light plays over it in movement, and I would need to film a little video to show off that effect but haven't had the time. I used fire agate beads at the back of the necklace - the agate slab nuggets were too irregular shaped and seemed unwieldy to me, and the necklace might have been too heavy for my friend as she has a very slender neck. There are little onyx beads at the centre of each agate to hide the beading wire - I had some green wire, which I doubled to increase the tensile strength of the necklace. The other little silvery beads are electroplated haematite.
That's it for this week, folks. I have to report that I finally gave up on the 'fugly' piece and took it apart, retrieving safely the elements that I could reuse. This is the first time I've had to do this, as I can usually rescue most pieces, but I lost patience with this one.
Have a wonderfull weekend and I'll try and catch you next week with a new piece i'm working on - all I can tell you now is that it promises to be a pretty piece and that flowers are involved.
Take care, and I'll see you soon. Watch out for my next instalment.